Teachers use Khan Academy to improve education

Credit: Eric Turner / KTVB

Teachers use Khan Academy to improve education

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by Scott Evans

Bio | Email | Follow: @ScottEvansKTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on May 3, 2012 at 6:23 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 11 at 5:32 AM

BOISE -- Walk in to Mr. Sexton’s math class at Eagle High School and you’ll hear him saying things like this, "Hopefully you guys have grabbed your homework off the back counter."

If you walked into Sonya Terborg’s 5th grade class at Riverstone International Elementary in Boise, you would see her doing hands-on activities with her students.

These two classrooms have something in common. They both use the Khan Academy, an online education tool with the mission of providing a free education to everyone everywhere.

J.D. Sexton’s class is learning how to calculate the volume of a sphere using a video from www.khanacademy.org.

"I like to use it an additional resource,” said Sexton. “If a student doesn't understand my presentation of a particular concept, I want to provide them with different resources.”

Terborg has her students use the Khan Academy at home, so when students comes to class they can apply what they've learned. But more importantly, Khan Academy allows Terborg to switch from a lecturer to more of a mentor and coach.

"It's not often that I'm at the front of the room explaining a concept," said Terborg.

Sexton also has more time with students.

"Are you a better teacher because of Khan Academy?" asked NewsChannel 7.

"It gives me more time with the students.  I don't know if that makes me a better teacher, but it gives me more time to get that one on one approach with the students," said Sexton.

The Khan Academy provides more for teachers like Sexton and Terborg than just online video lectures.

"My students are signed up with me as their coach," said Terborg.

It provides tools to track student work and progress.

"Every time they do anything I get access to what they're doing," said Terborg.

Showing them where they're excelling and where they might be struggling.

"I really like it. I like it a lot," said Terborg.

Eagle High 10th grader Colby Bradley likes it as well.

"I use the Khan Academy videos probably twice a week to help me with all my math," said Bradley.

And maybe sometime down the road, in future classrooms, if Sal Khan has his way, things will be a little different.

"When he talks about the way this can change, he's talking about this freeing up teachers from lecturing and moving them into providing problem solving," said Terborg.

There are more than 3,400 videos available on www.khanacademy.org, with more being added every day.

Right now there's a lot of math and science, but the topics are expanding to history and the humanities.

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